|Ian McKellen: Lowry fan|
The gallery's Head of Displays, Chris Stephens, made an interesting point when he explained that it was difficult to fit Lowry into a wider narrative. He wasn't a follower of any particular movement, nor did he belong to any school. Rather he pursued his own interests and explored his own vision of the world, using his position on the margins of the art world to good effect. He was an outsider, both in the way he chose to live and in terms of where he lived - in the provinces.
|LS Lowry, Street Scene, 1935|
|LS Lowry, A Lake, 1947|
Perhaps I've become too used to the heavily-populated scenes of urban life, but the paintings I woke up this morning thinking about are the empty, spacious, sometimes brooding pictures - landscapes and street scenes and coastal pictures. These may not belong to a school, but they fit within a tradition. The poetic interpretation of place, whether in words or pictures, is one of the great cultural achievements of this country.
|LS Lowry, Derbyshire Landscape, 1954|
Many British artists, poets and writers, who cannot be easily squeezed into any of the available movements, have a place in this sprawling narrative: Emily Bronte and John Fowles, George Borrow and Edward Thomas, Powell and Pressburger, Eric Ravilious, LS Lowry...
This was an inspired programme, led not by an expert but by a fan, and introducing as witnesses Jeffrey Archer and Lowry's milkman. The milkman, who described an incident in which the artist asked him to throw away a milk-splattered canvas, and then lamented the effect of art ownership on the artist's housekeeper, stole the show.